Since the USDA first started certifying organic food and stamping it with its now-familiar green and white label back in 2002, conversations about what farming practices are healthy and sustainable for the planet have expanded. With that expanded conversation, about the need for increased habitat management and environmental stewardship, have come a slew of additional labels and certifications. They tout a wide range of eco-benefits to consumers looking to support producers who in turn support birds, bugs, and carbon-storing soil with their farming practices.
Most of these labels are focused on what Andrew Gunther, executive director of A Greener World, which offers several certifications, calls “singular, linear issues.” This is a helpful marketing tactic, he says — after all, a label can only be successful if it can ratchet up its scale — because it targets consumers who have a strong connection to what the labels are offering. The Audubon Society, for example, whose mission is to protect birds and their habitats, gets easy buy-in among its 1.7 million members for products stamped with its bird-friendly label.
But as Marshall Johnson, the organization’s Conservation Ranching Program vice president, points out, “Where birds thrive, people prosper because birds need clean air, water, and land and so do we.” The same can be said for the insects that feed those birds and pollinate our crops, and diverse collections of trees that provide habitat for numerous species and bolster soil health. A common formula for creating robust ecosystems gives these labels a power beyond what’s immediately obvious.
Support the Labels
Of course, the success of these labels depends on consumer buy-in. If you’re interested in any of the species and habitats and the regional soil structure these labels seek to bolster, support their products with your dollars. To find other food labels you may be interested in, visit the Food Label Guide.